One of the challenges in teaching ancient history is that it’s easy for students to get the idea that Ancient Egypt happened… and then Ancient Greece happened… and then Ancient Rome happened… and then came the Middle Ages.
Especially when ancient history comes in pieces, as Greek mythology one semester and The Egypt Game the next semester, and Julius Caesar a few years later, it can be difficult for kids to get the full picture.
One solution is to do a brisk overview of ancient history that will gather up what your class already knows and whet their appetite for more thorough study later on.
Start with a timeline.
A class timeline can help a lot. Use Post-it notes across a wall, index cards held to a clothesline across the classroom, or a frieze around the top of your classroom walls. Get creative!
Consider making timelines for each continent to combine time and space. Or use an online timeline creation tool like TimeGraphics. However you choose to create your timeline, be sure to add to it every time you learn a new date.
You might be amazed by the new perspective your students develop!
Ancient History Lessons
Here at FreshPlans, we have lots of ancient history lessons, and we’re working on more. Choose books and activities for each of the cultures you choose to study, and spend one or more class periods on each.
- Ancient Mesopotamia
- Ancient Egypt
- Ancient China
- Ancient Persia
- the Ancient Empires of Africa
- Ancient India
- Ancient Khmer
- Ancient Greece
- Ancient Rome
- Mississippian Culture
There are many more ancient civilizations that you could study. One way to add knowledge and diversity to your study without overwhelming yourself or your students is to study one culture and do research to find out what was happening in the rest of the world on the dates you include.
For example, the city of Rome was founded in 753 BC. What else was going on in the world in the 750s BC?
There was a new king in Libya, Pharoahs in Egypt, and Greece established new colonies. The Lapita culture flourished in Polynesia and Ancient Australians were making cave art. The Olmec and Woodland cultures were going strong in the Americas.
The Lunchroom Party
As a culminating activity, imagine getting all your newfound friends from ancient times together in the lunchroom for a party.
Make a guest list, draw up a seating plan, and work out a menu everyone might enjoy.
Have a list of questions modern day hosts (your class) can use to start conversations with your ancient guests.
Find out about customs associated with eating and entertaining from each of the cultures you plan to invite to the party. This knowledge will help everyone feel comfortable — or at least give you a heads-up about the problems that might come up.
Have students draw the lunchroom party, act it out, or go whole hog and write a play.